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This post aims to invalidate the theories and fears which posit that Bogotá, Colombia is not a safe city and that it is full of drugs.

Updated: 2017-01-20 
I’ve been to Bogotá, Colombia quite a few times so far this year. Next week, I will go for my 10th time in 2011, so I feel that I can speak rather confidently about the question that seems to be on the forefront of most people’s minds when discussing this amazing city:

Is it safe to travel to Bogotá?

We’ve all heard the rumors about Colombia; there is violence that rivals the Middle East, and a drug trade that rivals the South Bronx’, per square mile. Corruption seems to be the standard operating procedure. Bombs have been planted several times over the last few years. From the ultra-leftist FARC rebels to the über-right death squads. It certainly doesn’t sound very safe.

Bogota Aerial View
Bogota Aerial View from the Colpatria Tower.

Frankly, there is no simple answer. Colombia, a vast country, shouldn’t be generalized like a small neighborhood, and neither should Bogotá. Both the city and the nation as a whole have been working very hard over the last decade or so to erase the dreadful memory of their past. Colombia taken as one may not seem so safe yet. However, if we break the country up into smaller regions and ask the same question about just Bogotá, the answer may appear more positive.

The largest city, and likewise the most visited, is Bogotá. Hosting 52.5% of the total yearly visitors to Colombia, the numbers should put you more at ease already. Bogotá is the capital of the country, situated way up in the mountains, and is the third highest capital city in the world, in terms of elevation. The city is about as big as New York City, and most parts are fairly safe. A traveler using appropriate caution and discretion like they would in most American cities will most likely not find trouble. No nighttime exploration into the city’s alleys and other seedy spots.

Page 2: Is Bogotá Safe? (Continued) »

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Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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  • I live here, and its safe. Dubai and asia and all that, they are DANGEROUS. Afghanistan, maybe. But this? Colombia, bogota is safe. Pickpockets,like USA. Robbery, yes but not BANKS or JEWERLY STORE. Usa, they rob a lot. They kill, a crazy man can enter a mall with a gun and… POW POW! Dead. But USA is very safe in some parts too, like HERE. They are the same, so people, we are brothers. Hahaha

    • Thanks for the confirmation.. I’m not sure how dangerous “Asia” is, but yeah, Bogota is relatively safe.

  • Hi there! Thanks for the advice! Me and my friend are traveling to Bogota for 5 days for Memorial Day weekend. We are two Chinese American females in our 20s, do you think just our appearances along will attract unwanted attention and set us as potential “targets” of robbery/theft?

    • Chloe, thanks for checking out the article! I don’t think you really have too much to worry about, but I’m about to let one of my good friends, Daniel, a native of Bogota, answer you further…

    • Some of the basic things would be to ALWAYS call a cab instead of hailing it from the street. There’s really no reason not to considering that; they only take 5-10 min to arrive and the extra charge is only about US $0.30. Also, when walking in a highly transited area, you should put your easy-to-pick pocket belongings in a safe part. For example, when I’m walking around La Zona Rosa, I always put my iPhone and wallet in the inside pocket of my jacket and even zip it up. This definitely applies to when you’re taking the Transmilenio/street bus.
      Looking for drugs might not be a good idea considering that you probably don’t even speak the language, so you might seem even more vulnerable.
      As Christian wrote in the article, the city is relatively safe, but everyone should always be alert to try to spot dangerous situations.
      In terms of attracting attention, it is possible you will, but not in any different way than a black guy would attract attention in china, for example. Maybe some people are gonna want to take a photo with you or something, but I really don’t think it’s gonna lead you to trouble. I mean, my girlfriend, who is blonde and has blue eyes, was all over the country with me 2 Christmas’ ago and nothing happened to her, so… draw your own conclusions!

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